Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones provided an update on his move to the heavyweight division and when he might make his long-awaited return to the Octagon.
Jones spoke with reporters before the UFC's 2021 Hall of Fame Ceremony, where he and Alexander Gustafsson were inducted into the fight wing for their classic five-round matchup at UFC 165 in September 2013. He said the following about where his body is currently at in terms of adapting to moving up from 205 pounds to the 265-pound limit of the promotion's heavyweight division.
“Right now I’m about 255,” Jones said (h/t MMA Junkie). “I feel really great. My goal is to get up to 270 pounds. My goal is to be the most technical, the most well-conditioned, the strongest out of all the heavyweights. That’s what I want. I want to take over all across the board and that’s what I’m going to continue working for. I’m very patient and I know I have several more months of work to do. If anyone is impressed with the way I look today, I can’t wait until they see me when I get back in there. I’m planning on doing so much more.”
He continued on to say that he plans on making his heavyweight debut in the second quarter of 2022 and the following about his pay being raised by the promotion in the form of pay-per-view points.
“I think it will be some time in the second quarter of 2022,” Jones said. "Dana, he guaranteed me that he would give me an increase in my next fight. I’m really excited about that. I think it’s going to be pay-per-view-based, so I’m going to have to work for the money that I get. I’m going to have to sell the fight. I think that’s something I haven’t been good at in the past. You look at guys like (Conor) McGregor who just talk so much sh*t. He’s so good at it. He’s so good at it. He’s so good at marketing himself. I have always just focused on winning. I think when I come back as a heavyweight, I’ll try to do more legally controversial sh*t so that I could possibly sell some more pay-per-views.”
Jones also told ESPN's Marc Raimondi that while he's open to the idea of a matchup with former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, he really wants to face the winner of the upcoming UFC heavyweight title unification bout between current heavyweight king Francis Ngannou and interim champ Ciryl Gane in his first fight back.
"I will admit Francis is a bigger one when it comes to the financial side," Jones said. "But it's all good. I want the belt, really. I want the belt, I want big money. I'm open to the idea. I've fought for so many years at this point, I'm looking to make as much as money as I can if I'm being honest. I fight for legacy and I do know that beating Stipe Miocic would be huge for my legacy. Right now, he doesn't have the belt and he's not the most famous heavyweight. I'm looking to just get mainstream America excited about MMA and the heavyweight division. That's kind of where my heart is. I'm in that direction, big, mega fights."